Welcome, everyone. Today I will be writing about one of the most unusual objects I have ever owned as a child. I had a portable radio called the Toot-A Loop from The Panasonic Japan Company. Here is the description of the radio according to Wikipedia:
The Toot-a-Loop Radio or Panasonic R-72 is a novelty radio made by Panasonic Japan in the early 1970s. This radio was designed to be wrapped around the wrist (provided your wrist wasn’t too large). It also came with stickers for customizing the unit. The reception was the AM broadcast band only – no FM (the FM version of this radio is called RF-72). The radio was shaped something like a donut with the hole off-center. If twisted, the smaller half would pivot and the larger half would separate, forming an “S” shape. One side of the radio had a grille behind which sat the speaker. There was also a jack for a mono earplug. The tuner was located inside one of the “splits,” so the radio had to be twisted into the “S” position in order to be tuned, but the volume control was on the outer diameter of the radio and could be adjusted regardless of whether the radio was twisted open or closed. The Toot-a-Loop came in several colors including white, red, blue, and yellow.
When my family lived in the Roseland neighborhood in the early 70s, I asked my mother if I can have The Toot-A-Loop for my ninth birthday which was in the year 1972. She said yes and then we walked to Sy Block Appliance Store where it was located on the corner of East 112th St & South Michigan Ave. Gately’s Peoples Store was across the street. We walked into the store and saw all these cool, groovy electronics on display. I remembered seeing a 7UP can with a light bulb attached to it, and it was flickering at the shop window. We requested the salesman about the Toot-A-Loop, and he pointed to us of all the radios in the store.
I couldn’t decide which color I wanted. I was torn between the red and the blue one. Green was my favorite but they didn’t have it in that color. Therefore, I chose the blue one. I don’t remember the price of it, but I searched it online, and had a retail cost of $14.95. The box was very pretty. The radio was a rather odd shape. You can hold it on your wrist, and it wasn’t heavy. It merely had AM Stations, and the radio station I listened to was WLS-AM 890. I remembered the DJs that were on the air at the time were Bob Sirott and John “Records” Landecker.
The radio needed to have two AA batteries and had an earpiece. It also came with stickers which I rarely used them. I brought the radio to school one day to show everyone. Everyone seemed to like it, but one kid was very jealous of me and he threatened to steal it and break into a million pieces. I hid my radio that day, and I never brought it to school again. I didn’t notice many kids owning a Toot-A-Loop at the time, but I saw some white, red, yellow, and a couple of blue ones during the school year. When you wanted to change the station, you opened it and it had a cool-looking dial with big numbers. I owned the radio for a couple of years and was tired of it. I believe I gave it to one of my brothers and he had for a little while until it wasn’t functionally anymore.
Over the years, I saw the other Panasonic radio on sale. They had The Ball and Chain one called The Parapet. Other radio models were The Newhall, Cranford, Clarinda, Auburn, and The Hoskin. The other gadget was The Take ‘n’ Tape cassette recorder. I didn’t own any at the time, it was much later when I was a teenager I started buying those.
One memorable item from Panasonic Japan was the Dynamite TNT 8 Track Player. Those were undoubtedly awesome looking, and I remembered the commercials on TV. Jimmie Walker, who performed as played ‘J.J.” on the classic television series Good Times, was the TV spokesman for those. You can find the commercial on YouTube. You can find most of the radios, cassette, and 8 track players on sale at eBay. Some are extremely valuable if they are in good condition.
The Toot-A-Loop was the first radio I have ever owned. We had radios in the house, and my father owned a black and white radio and I don’t remember which brand it was. My mother told me it was still in her closet, tucked away with other things. I remembered he was fumbling with it, trying to find a Greek radio station and it had so much static. It was difficult to listen to it at times. I loved owning The Toot-A-Loop at when I was growing up, Maybe someday I will buy it on eBay, just for enjoying it as a keepsake. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.